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Iowa City, IA
Miles Today: 217.2
Total Miles: 9774.6
Days on the Road: 146
Iowa: We Yuv Torn
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Field of Souvenirs
N 41°41.257 W 91°31.672
Thursday, June 26, 2003 - Day 146

There have been lots of gimmicks on this trip, some overt, some hidden, some written about, some not. There's the quest to go to every national park, well underway and in good standing; to write a song about each state, terribly behind schedule and likely to be scrapped; learning a new, state-related skill in each state, also almost entirely abandoned before its start. We've also dabbled in video documentary, guidebook writing, and finding the best bloody mary, at least in theory. Sometimes it feels like we're setting ourselves up for failure with such lofty and far-ranging goals. In fact, this is exactly the case. We have failed, often dramatically, to reach any of these goals.

There is one, though, that we're sticking to and so far have had good luck with: to visit places where fiction and reality converge, should those places happen to lie in our path and should we happen to be aware of them at the time. The looseness of this rule is the key to our ongoing success at following it. Mt. Airy, North Carolina was our fist example, and then there may have been another, we can't quite remember. And now, it's the Field of Dreams.

That's right, they built it, and we went. They, of course, were a bunch of Hollywood producers and some incredibly well paid union stagehands, not a sad, lonely and schizophrenic Iowa farmer played by the irritatingly sympathetic Kevin Costner. The best part of this place is that while most of the field lies on the property of the farmhouse also seen in the film, left field and parts of center field are across an invisible line and on someone else's land. After the shooting was complete, left field was plowed under and replanted with corn while the rest of the field was preserved. Eventually an investment banking company leased left field and rebuilt it, so they would come again.

The effect is quite odd. As you round the bases, you notice that third base is a different material than first and second. There are two gift shops, one near the house, covered with signs indicating that the proceeds go to the family whose land you're trampling, and one out in left field which you are warned away from by cold words like "investment banking firm". There is a donation box that says "keep left field alive". There are two driveways, right next to each other, with separate parking lots. One gets the feeling that there have been some heated debates over this field, brother against brother, farmer against farmer, more than a few tractor face-offs.

Next stop in this series; the future birthplace of Captain Kirk. Seriously.

Not mentioned, but featured in our photo archives, is our visit to the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, an educational, if odd, living history museum. This is one of those places where the role-playing of the employees is relentless and disconcerting. You have to wonder if they're just really serious about the job, or if they really think it's 1900, and the depth of winter.

Also not mentioned, and not pictured, is our romp through Trempealeau, Wisconsin, a place often noted for its historic and scenic beauty, but noted by us mainly for its drinking establishments. A fond hello to all of our new friends there.

The Swinging Sign, it squeaks

This man gave us a horeshoe

Left Field of Dreams
more photos in the archives »

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